Published on September 14th, 2011 | by P.H.H.0
The Performance Music Video – Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start”
There is something about live music that has drawn people to arenas, clubs and coffee houses across the world for ages. It’s the energy that the artist brings. It’s the spontaneity of the performance and the fact that it can never be reproduced on record. It’s the idea that we are seeing our heroes in person. It’s the idea that we are seeing history in the making. When you look at some of the greatest performers of all time, they thrive on stage. The crowd energizes Springsteen and brings Little Richard to life.
Ever since the technology has been available to videotape these live performances, people have been doing so. In 1956 Elvis Presley appeared on the Milton Berle Show and gave a controversial live performance in front of a screaming audience. Eight years later, America was introduced to the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. It’s almost hard to hear Paul over the screaming teenage girls.
Audiences still love viewing these live performances. Especially from a band or artist who delivers larger than life performances on stage. A band today that delivers such a performance night in and night out is Arcade Fire.
Last year Arcade Fire released a promotional music video for their album ‘The Suburbs’. The song featured was ‘Ready to Start’ and it is one of the best videos I have seen in a long time. The video was directed by Charlie Lighting and was filmed at the bands July 7th show in London England.
The concept is simple: film the band performing live at Hackney Empire. But why is this video so much more dynamic than all the other cookie cutter concert videos we have seen in the past?
Charlie Lighting approached this video cinematically. The video looks less like a live show that it does a scene from a Fellini film. One of the most obvious aspects is the use of black and white. This was a great move given the venue. The use of black and white gives the audience a sense of timelessness. This could just have easily happened in 1960 as it did 2010.
There are also numerous slow motion shots that stylize the piece and add an element of grandeur. There are so many rich moments caught on stage that are heightened through the use of slow motion. Regine Cassagna glaring up at the audience with the fire of having beaten her drums to a pulp as Win Butler screams through the microphone. These shots intercut flawlessly with the rest of the piece.
But what I love about this video and what separates it from most concert videos is that the attention isn’t solely on the lead singer. In fact the editor choose to include more images of the seven piece band and the roaring crowd than Win Butler. More importance was placed on capturing those moments, the moments that can only come from a live performance. This isn’t something that any director planned. It was live, in the moment and unrehearsed. The crowd was feeding the band energy and the band soared.